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Nutcracker Ticket TricksGouging the Audience for Last Performance


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#1 Eileen

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 10:19 AM

I thought it worth informing readers that for the last performance of Nutcracker by NYC Ballet, on December 31 at 2 p.m., tickets in center orchestra were priced (like other performances) at $150 until a day or so ago. Now they have repriced tickets in rows P and Q (center and slightly off center) as "Sweet Seats" for $250! These seats were $150 until the marketing execs realized they could make a quick killing by selling for $250 seats that went for $150 a few days ago and were $150 in other performances. Why were they able to do this? Because Mearns, Peck, and Reichlen are cast for the last performance, that's why.

I luckily bought a ticket in Row J center for $159 last week, including online fees before they raised their prices opportunistically. Look, it's a free market, NYCB is free to sell rows P and Q for whatever they can get. But I bet the prices of the artificially inflated seats will go down to $150 when they don't sell for $250.

I myself am tempted to sell my row J center ticket because I have other expenses that are pressing. It's on Craigslist, but I am greatly ambivalent about missing Mearns, Peck and Reichlen. Perhaps I should sell it, I've seen Nutcracker countless times.

But the raising of prices by $100 for inferior back orchestra seats just for this performance is SO tacky. Now they are selling the farthest back orchestra seats for $150 - those under the overhang. What do readers think of the last minute price increases? Would you be willing to pay $250 for row P or Q?

#2 abatt

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 10:53 AM

I too thought about taking in an additional NYCB Nutcracker before the end of the season, but I opted against it when I saw the prices and seat locations. I looked at Fourth Ring A pricing ($89), expecting a seat in either Row A or B of the fourth ring to come up. Instead, they were trying to sell me Row L seat 7 for $89. No way, no how. Rip off. I'll add that I saw a breathtaking performance by G. Murphy and D. Hallberg at ABT's Nutcracker last night for $25 for a great balcony seat with an excellent view of the stage.

#3 Eileen

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 11:17 AM

I know, abatt, I was shocked to see they were selling 4th ring in rows like L and K for $89. I had the same idea you had - it must cost $89 for row A or B. But no, a December 30 performance was offering row M for $89!

#4 Rock

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 02:56 PM

While I have serious reservations about the NYCB's adoption of 'dynamic pricing', just try to get a ticket to The Book of Mormon. I have even more serious reservations about the practice of buying tickets and trying to sell them on eBay. Isn't that scalping? Isn't scalping illegal?

#5 Jayne

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:20 PM

check out pricing on Ticketmaster to NYC area shows for Foster The People, Tool, Coldplay, etc. Runs from $47 - 428. Art is expensive in the Big Apple.

#6 Eileen

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 04:24 PM

It is legal to resell tickets in New York State. What was called "scalping" is now called "resale". These are legal dealers.

What I'd like to know is, how NYC Ballet will price the P and Q row seats if they don't sell at $250. I have a strong suspicion the prices will go down to $150 again! That's the free market. I will wait and observe.

#7 Amy Reusch

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 05:52 PM

Well why should scalpers be able to take advantage of resale values and not NYCB themselves?

#8 abatt

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:35 PM

check out pricing on Ticketmaster to NYC area shows for Foster The People, Tool, Coldplay, etc. Runs from $47 - 428. Art is expensive in the Big Apple.


I guess I'm getting old. Never heard of Foster The People or Tool.

#9 Rock

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:58 PM

I'm with you Amy.

#10 susanger

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 07:17 AM

Why were they able to do this? Because Mearns, Peck, and Reichlen are cast for the last performance, that's why.


Hopefully you will get that cast. Last night Megan Fairchild substituted for Sara Mearns as Dewdrop -- and she was fabulous.

#11 abatt

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 07:36 AM

I don't think that the pricing variations are based directly on the cast. It is based on a computer program that jacks up the prices based on consumer demand/ticket sales for a particular performance. Good casts stimulate ticket demand, so I think the casting indirectly results in increased prices. I think it would be very demoralizing to the dancers to know that the company was pricing a Mearns performance higher than an A. Stafford performance, for example. This is especially true in a company which prides itself on the motto that there are no "stars" and that the choreography is the star.

I'm glad to hear that M. Fairchild did well as Dewdrop. I think it suits her much better than Sugar Plum.

#12 Eileen

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:29 AM

I see nothing per se wrong with NYCB benefiting from higher demand for better casts. But I noticed that while I could buy a ticket in mid orchestra the other week for $150, suddenly the price for row P and Q - the last rows of central orchestra - were suddenly repriced at $250. It is a computer program, you're right abatt, and there is nothing wrong with it. I have myself repriced tickets I am trying to sell based on how desirable they are and the demand for them. But I simply think calling P and Q seats "premium" or "sweet seats" borders on absurdity. I am not commenting on how expensive the arts are in New York; that was not my point. I think $150 is expensive, and I bought such a ticket plus fees! What I am objecting to is raising the price drastically on plainly inferior seating. The computer has no "seichel" as we say in Yiddish, no common sense!

#13 abatt

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:46 AM

I agree with you, Eileen. It is also absurd to charge $89 (plus facility fee and handling) for seats in the fourth ring that are virtually on the roof of the theater. But people appear to be buying them. Lots of desperate tourists, I suppose.

#14 Eileen

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:27 PM

Maybe a "desperate tourist" will buy my row J center ticket before the performance so I can pay my dentist.

#15 Eileen

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 07:56 AM

News from the box office: The first 8 rows of orchestra are so-called "sweet seats". I lucked out to get a ticket in the ninth row center at $159 including online fees. The online system has now eliminated row P and Q seats as "sweet seats". They are now regularly priced at an "economy" $150 plus fees. That must have been a computer glitch, or some little NYCB marketing elf has been reading this series of posts and making corrections. I do hope Sara Mearns is dancing this afternoon.


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